One of the most beloved verses on faith is Jesus’ simile of the mustard seed.
Most people draw comfort from Jesus point about the power of a faith that is small like the seed. But a larger truth behind this: mustard seeds grow. So Jesus is not only drawing attention to the small size of these seeds.
In order to grasp the full meaning of the phrase, let’s first take a look at it as it appears in Matthew and Luke. In Matthew, the expression comes after the disciples were unable to cast out a demon. They ask Jesus why. He responds,
Because of your little faith. Amen, I say to you, if you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you will say to this mountain, ‘Move from here to there,’ and it will move. Nothing will be impossible for you (Matthew 17:20).
The version in Luke comes after Jesus speaks on forgiving someone who was wronged you seven times in one day and asks for forgiveness each time, to which the disciples respond with a request to increase their faith. Jesus says,
If you have faith the size of a mustard seed, you would say to this mulberry tree, ‘Be uprooted and planted in the sea,’ and it would obey you (Luke 17:6). ….